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ThroughMyEyes
By: Rajiv Chopra

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Tuesday, 13-Nov-2007 05:49 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Lazing, Gossiping Away In The Bright Light Of A New Day

Timelessness
This is the last entry from Jodhpur. This will also be the last entry for a while, as I don't seem to be able to access my hard disk, and I will have to recover all the old files and photographs from it.

In India, in the days gone by, people had a lot of time on their hands. They's often sit on coir beds, calle char pais (four legs?), in the shade, drink tea and gossip away.

You still see this, in the cities, in the small towns, in the villages. Not just in India, but even in buzzing places like Shanghai.

Anyhow, like all things, these old habits too, are passing away gently, into the dust.

From timelessness, we are now discovering the microsecond. And, even though, to paraphrase the old poet, if we can find eternity in an hour, we can also find it in a microsecond. But, it is not the same and, never will be.


Wednesday, 7-Nov-2007 03:31 Email | Share | | Bookmark
If There Be Music, Play On

Play on, play on.
Still in Jodhpur. For this, and one more entry, I am afraid.

Also, still in the old market where I left you all the last time.

The Rajasthanis, like all Indians, love music. And, the Rajasthanis love wooden toys and decorative stuff. Incidentally, in Rajasthan your origin can be identified by the style in which you tie your turban. I have no clue where these musicians come from.

It does not really matter, I suppose. Music transcends social boundaries.

If there be music, play on...


Sunday, 4-Nov-2007 04:10 Email | Share | | Bookmark
An Old Road Trip. III. Jodhpur. The Plebs

Entry to the market
Windows. Who lives inside?
Shops below
Before I start this entry, I must make an apology and vent a bit of irritation on fotopages. I have not made any comments to your fotopages recently, because I can't. I comment, and when I try to upload the comment, I am met with an internal server error. 真的不好 。

Anyway, let me move on. So, you saw how royalty lived. And, here are some shots of how the plebs lived, and live even today. Houses in Jodhpur are typically made of yellow sandstone, which keeps the interiors relatively cool. But, when you go there in summer, the reflection of the strong summer sun can really hurt the eyes. Summer temperatures can typically reach 47 degrees Celsius. Hot, yes? I know. I've been there in summer.

Typically, you enter gateways and, there's life teeming on the narrow streets. The streets are narrow. The by-lanes, which we call gullies, are even narrower. They were'nt built for modern transport but, you will find cars edging along the street nowadays.

At ground level, there are shops. And, people selling stuff on roadside stalls. On top, they live. And, the old folks carved some pretty intricate windows. I forgot what they are called. Shall have to ask my sister. She's an architect. Teaching in Wisconsin nowadays.

The windows are pretty famous, actually. And, I have to say that my photos do not do them justice. I think, at some point, we should have a 'fotopages group' going along on a road trip to some exotic location in the world. That would be cool!

So, the windows. They allow ventilation, look cool, and afford some measure of privacy.

For the shopkeeper, living on top had advantages. With almost no travel time to work, he could go up for lunch, have his afternoon snooze, and be back to selling with renewed vigour in the evening. Not bad as a lifestyle but, could be limiting in it's scope, I think.

The plebs life was, is, and will always be different from that of the royals. They lose out on the opulence, but, have more freedom and laughter in their lives.

Not all of 'em, though. The poor sods who work for the merchants get it pretty bad. There are layers and layers in human society.


Thursday, 25-Oct-2007 13:48 Email | Share | | Bookmark
An Old Road Trip -II. Jodhpur. Royalty

Interior courtyard of the palace
Palace Corridor
Palace Grounds
View all 6 photos...
Well, we actually did not go from Jaipur to Jodhpur. We first did a day trip to Ajmer, and then took a train from Jaipur to Jodhpur. Oddly, while I have lots of pictures, I only scanned the two that I put up the last time. I will buy a film scanner in January and scan all my old negatives. Else, they will get screwed. Spoiled.

We stayed at the Royal Palace in Jodhpur. Okay, don't be jealous. or, better still, be jealous!! Many old palaces in Rajasthan have been converted into luxury hotels. One of the divisions of my old company was the hotel division, with some of the best restaurants in the country. The royal palace hotel in Jodhpur was run by my old company's hotel division. We got a fantastic rate during the peak season. 50 US Dollars. Today, it would probably cost you 500 US Dollars a night!

One of the highlights is the old Jodhpur fort. They still have the cannons on the ramparts. I have the photos in colour. I don't like them. So, I will not put them up.

The fort in Jodhpur is pretty cool, I must say. Very, very cool. Pretty high up, so it is a bit of a climb. The rooms still have some of the old furniture. Talk about luxury. Life as a king could be good, I must say.

Many of the old blokes were given their privy purse sometime around 1950, and the old kingdoms were abolished, so we could be one country. But, the town folk still regard them as demi-gods. And, the blighters - the old kings - act as Gods. Old codgers. Old habits die hard.

I once did have tea with the Maharaja of Jaipur. Maharaja means "Big/Supreme King" or, Emperor. In the fellow's living room in his palace. Now, that was something, I have to say. Lovely gold filigree work on the walls. Beautiful decoration pieces and carpets. I must say my dusty shoes felt out of place. The aura of the place can be quite awe inspiring. And, so is the kindly, kingly attitude of the old king, deigning to have tea with me, the humble subject.

The sad thing about these events, is that while this has been etched into my memory, it has, I am sure, faded out of the memory of the king. Else, his brain would have been etched away! He retains his brain, however.

I have to say one thing about these forts. In the old days, the kings were not very united. Jaipur had a king, so did Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur etc etc. All twns within 500 km of each other. The Muslim invaders often played divide and rule, and so it was pretty easy to conquer India. Again, and again, and again. The women, however, did not want to be taken by the Muslim invaders and become part of their harems. So, to keep their honour intact, when the battle would be going badly, they would light a big fire and, jump into the fire. And, be cooked to death. Sati.

Sati is a bad thing but, this custom is not the origin of sati.


Saturday, 13-Oct-2007 16:58 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Start Of An Old Road Trip. Jaipur

Hawa Mahal
Street Girl
I went on this road trip in the western state of Rajasthan many years ago, with some colleagues from office.

"Sthan", in Hindi, means place. "Raja" means kings. So, Rajasthan means the place of the Kings. A bit of a misnomer of sorts because, although Rajasthan had many kings; India, as a country, had many kings. We had, at the time of our independence, several hundred princely kingdoms or estates, which had to be abolished to allow us to exist as one country. So, it has been very easy for conquerers through the ages, to come in and invade us by playing divide and rule. Indeed, Rajasthan was one of the areas where they were quite successful with these tactics.

Even today, we are Punjabis, Tamilians, Marathas often before we are Indian.

But, we've taken in the invaders, absorbed their cultures and, made them our own. Which is one reason why we have so much diversity and why we are such a fascinating country.

So, back to the road trip. I'll write more about this as I get deeper into the road trip.

The Hawa Mahal (or, literally Wind Palace. Hawa Means Wind) was one of those places designed to let in the cooler evening breeze from the desert. As per some people, because of all the windows, young princesses could cast their lecherous eyes on the handsome young dudes passing by on the streets below. Women were secluded, you know, those days.

I have no clue where that young girl is now. Ships passing each other in the night..

But, you see the snake charmer in the background? Proof of the fact that we are the Land of Snake Charmers!!


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